A Pakistani counter-terrorism court has sentenced to death a man who allegedly committed blasphemy on Facebook, a government prosecutor said on Sunday, the first time someone has been handed the death penalty for blaspheming on social media.
The conviction of Taimoor Raza, 30, follows a high-profile crackdown against blasphemy on social media by the government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where insulting the Prophet Muhammad is a capital crime for which dozens are sitting on death row. Even mere accusations are enough to spark mass uproar and mob justice.
Shafiq Qureshi, public prosecutor in Bahawalpur, about 500km south of provincial capital Lahore, said Raza was convicted for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions.
‘An anti terrorism court of Bahawalpur has awarded him the death sentence,’ Qureshi said.’ It is the first ever death sentence in a case that involves social media.’
It is rare for a counter-terrorism court to hear blasphemy cases but Raza’s trial fell under this category because his charge sheet included counter-terrorism offences linked to hate speech.
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